Internet users traditionally download a given file from a file server. When a lot of people are downloading a file, this can affect the time required to complete it. One solution to this is to mirror the file to more servers and distribute the demand. But, these can still be slow if one uses a populated mirror server.
Peer-to-peer (P2P) file sharing solves these issues since all “peers” who have the file share the load. It does not require a master file server. The download would not stop if a peer goes offline. Other peers with the file cover for the offline peer and continue file sharing until download is complete.
Aside from this method of file sharing, P2P downloads has a more efficient use of Internet bandwidth. Peers can open connections to multiple peers and provide different parts of the file simultaneously. Once a downloading peer has a complete part of a file, it can then share this to other downloading peers even though the whole file is still incomplete.
Peer-to-peer file sharing simultaneously downloads and uploads large amounts of data between numerous computers. This creates a connection that can last for hours that hackers can easily exploit.
P2P file sharing clients, including torrent clients, have the complete IP addresses of its users. Since this method of file sharing simultaneously downloads and uploads data between computers, a user’s computer has open connections with numerous strangers on the network. Individuals with malicious intent can easily take advantage of this connection. They use the device’s IP address to access all files in the computer through the connection.
Furthermore, P2P file sharing clients cannot monitor the files being shared. Some of these files might contain malicious code that creates security vulnerabilities in an infected device. All it takes is for a user to download and open the file. From there, the code will do its work and send the hacker the necessary information to access the device.
Aside from this, P2P file sharing copyrighted material can result to jail time. The device’s or ISP’s IP address is the best evidence to prove that an individual has committed copyright-related offenses. Some ISPs will even cancel user connections if they find out that a user uses it for file sharing.
Average internet users usually use P2P file sharing to download music, TV shows, movies, e-books, and other copyrighted software. A VPN will hide a file sharers IP address and prevent its ISP from tracking what the user is doing.
Furthermore, any type of P2P file sharing leaves the device vulnerable to malwares by leaving its IP address in the file’s tracking history. Using a VPN will keep IP addresses of Internet users private and off the record.
Podcasters produce audio files that have lengths of up to an hour. This requires podcasters to host large files for download by at least hundreds of users. Podcasters rarely have access to an Internet connection or server that can handle this demand. Because of this, they use torrent files to facilitate a more efficient method of file sharing.
This opens up their IP address to their subscribers and other podcast listeners. This opens up possibilities for violations of privacy, and security threats. Depending on their content, some listeners might not take well and resort to such measures. With a virtual private network, podcasters can prevent hostile response utilizing their IP addresses.
The Internet has helped lower the barriers in the film and music industry. Up and coming artists and filmmakers used torrents to distribute promotional and other extra content from their projects. Using a VPN will help keep their IP addresses and personal information private.
Most open source and freeware developers distribute their software through BitTorrent. This is to increase the availability of their software and reduce the loads on their servers. Using a VPN will add an extra layer of security in case a third-party malware compromised the file.
P2P file sharing places a computer at high-risk for malwares and information theft. Its owners can even become a victim of identity theft. However, some individuals require it for their livelihood like in the case of podcasters and open-source software developers while others just have to download copyrighted content. In such cases, a virtual private network is a non-negotiable measure for maintaining security and privacy of an individual’s computer and information.